Saturday, 16 May 2015

The WPO: off the coast of New Ireland & Kokopo/Rabaul; Papua New Guinea.

Bougainville Island 
Scene of recent civil unrest & probably not too safe
 to visit at the moment.

 A terrible shot of Streaked Shearwater

Long-tailed Skuas migrating northwards.
Me, Sav, Arthur & David.
This morning 21st April is glorious! We are at sea heading north-west going towards Bougainville Island. The birding is slow but steady, the first Streak-headed Shearwater sails by, along with a total of 8 Long-tailed Skuas & a Pomarine Skua.

 Red-footed Booby
A flock of Red-footed Boobies, 
with a Brown Booby.

 Heinroth's Shearwater

Much better light this morning.

Both Red-footed & Brown Boobies are around. A total of four Heinroth’s Shearwaters were recorded, which was a brilliant highlight.
A Beck’s/Tahiti Petrel flew by. I failed to get any photos of this bird, which was a little frustrating.

A possible Grey-backed Tern

 Another frustrating aspect of the day was the distant Grey-backed type Terns. They were very shy of the boat & we probably saw low double figures, but later we had reasonable views of at least three separate individuals. So it is on my list! Yes, this is a tough bird to get conclusive identification on.

 The fishy oily slick is now launched!

 Here they come!

 Beck's Petrel!
 Not the best shots in the world, but......

 You can get an idea of the small, compact nature 
of this species from these shots.

22nd April is the day! It is the day for seeing the enigmatic Beck’s Petrel! And so it proved! We probably saw around 20 birds throughout the day. Chris & Sav put out a fishy guts slick & after an hour we saw five birds feeding on it, unfortunately all were a little distant.
Red-footed Boobies were a feature of the day, probably around 75+ birds noted.

Sreaked Shearwater.
Around 10 Streaked Shearwaters were also seen.
Grey-backed Terns were around but kept their distance, being extremely shy of the ship & making photography almost impossible.

Remember this photo?
You think you do!

It was the final night of the first leg of the trip, so a bit of a party ensued! Got to bed in the early hours! Early on the 23rd we finish the first leg of the WPO. Quite a few people leave but the rest of us stay on board for the next fifteen days! It is a long trip, this one!

A little tardy in arising this morning! It is 23rd April & we are anchored off New Britain. It is the start of the second leg of this epic journey – The Pacific Pelagic Odyssey. The bay is very pretty & we see the still active volcano in the distance. This area was badly hit by an eruption a couple of years ago & the Papua New Guinea government are in the process of literally moving the city of Rabaul to a new location at Kokopo, hopefully out of range of any further eruptions.
Am a little sad as both David & Arthur leave the boat today, both being brilliant travelling companions – we had a blast!
We cross the bay by zodiacs & land at the Kokopo Resort. A few of us plan to do a little birding while the rest of the passengers disembark. We walked around in the heat & managed to see a few birds including four new species for me: New Britain Friarbird; Black Sunbird; Hooded Mannakin & Bismarck Crow. We also saw Brush Cuckoo; Sacred Kingfisher & Shining Flycatcher. Not a bad little walk. I didn't take my camera because of security fears, but all the locals seemed very nice & welcoming.

We once again set sail & it was very quiet, with hardly anything of note being seen.

Sunset, at the end of the first leg of the WPO.

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